Review Crew Book Reviews by Genre: Horror

House of Roots and Ruin book jacket
Craig, Erin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

House of Roots and Ruin is an intriguing sequel to the popular novel House of Salt and Sorrow by Erin Craig. The previous novel primarily focused on the Thamus girls, with a particular emphasis on Annaleigh, as they delved into the mystery surrounding the death of their sister, Euliea. In contrast, the story in House of Roots and Ruin revolves around Verity, the youngest Thamus sibling.

The plot begins with Verity's journey to the mainland, where she visits Chantiule and Bloem. During her stay there, she receives a commission to paint a portrait of Alexander, the son of the wealthy Laurent family. However, as she spends more time in the family's mansion, she senses an underlying air of uncertainty and becomes curious about the family's enigmatic past.

As the narrative progresses, Verity uncovers several buried secrets that the family has been hiding, leading to betrayal and sparking chaos within the manor. She grapples with accepting her ability to see ghosts, which she had initially rejected. However, she eventually learns to harness her gift to uncover the Laurent family's secrets.

House of Roots and Ruin is an engrossing novel that captivates readers and keeps them on the edge of their seats. The author successfully weaves together a complex and suspenseful plot that explores themes of betrayal, loss, and family dynamics. The book is a must-read for anyone who enjoys House of Salt and Sorrows and those who are fans of the mystery and fantasy genres.
The book in question is an enthralling and captivating read that is a perfect choice for anyone who is just starting in the fantasy genre and wants to try out some mystery books. The plot of the book is structured in a way that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat as it advances with each chapter. The book is full of unexpected twists and turns, which adds to the overall excitement and thrill of the read.

One of the notable aspects of the book is how the story moves back and forth yet still manages to stay in line with how the story ends. This aspect of the book keeps the reader engaged and intrigued till the very end. The book is well-written and easy to follow, making it a perfect shallow swim for anyone new to the genre.

The book balances fantasy and mystery perfectly, making it a thrilling and exciting adventure for readers. The book's overall quality and the balance of its elements make it a perfect recommendation for anyone looking for a great read in the fantasy-mystery genre.

8th grade

Reviewer's Name: Belle
Constellations of Scars book jacket
Ousley, Melissa Eskue
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This is definitely an eventful book. "Constellations of Scars" follows Amelia Weaver. For unexplained reasons, she grows pearls on her skin every month. Her mother keeps her shut inside the house, restricting her freedom. One day she decides to escape and try her hand at the real world. She ends up working for a freak show, though they are unaware of her own oddity.

Let's start with the characters. Amelia herself is perfectly acceptable. She doesn't have any noteworthy character traits, or anything to help her stand out besides the whole pearl thing. However, her motivation is clearly defined and all of her choices make sense. Gabe is probably the best character in the book. His backstory is interesting, and his somewhat reclusive demeanor is off putting without being unlikeable. Unfortunately, most of his character development happens within ten pages. Peter is... interesting. I'll talk about him in the spoilers section.

The best part about this book is the writing. It keeps the reader engaged the whole way through. While the descriptions are detailed, the author does not dwell on them long enough to bore the reader. One interesting thing about this book is the chapter length. While there are long chapters, there are also chapters that only last a few pages. I found that this kept the story at a fast pace, further keeping me involved.

The plot is the main failing of the book. Spoilers from here on out. It starts off strong, setting up themes of isolation and hiding. Several conflicts were set up, most notably Amelia's mother and the possibility of the world finding out about her secret. However, all of these conflicts are suddenly solved halfway through the book. From that point on, it shifts to a thriller about Peter secretly being a serial killer. I'm not kidding. There are hints that Peter isn't as nice as he appears, so it doesn't come out of nowhere. However, it drastically shifts the course of the story, to the point where it feels like two separate stories.

Despite this criticism, this wasn't a bad book. I enjoyed myself while reading it. Furthermore, it's a quick read (perfect for car trips or bedtime). If you're looking for an engaging story with twists and turns, this is for you. If you're looking for a cohesive story with interesting themes, this book isn't for you.

Reviewer's Name: Rose
The Graveyard Book book jacket
Gaiman, Neil
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Graveyard Book, written by Neil Gaiman, is a mystical, interesting book. In the book, a young boy is taken in and cared for by ghosts of a graveyard. The boy is kept in secret, and is named Bod, short for Nobody. The book follows Bod's adventures in growing up and continuing his life, in and out of the graveyard. I thought this was a great book, packed full of magic special characters. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, but mostly a more mature audience, because there are some parts that I feel are harder to understand if you are younger, and at some parts the book is a little slow. But overall I think this was one of the best books I've read this year!

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Ella
Dracula book jacket
Stoker, Bram
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Dracula, written by Bram Stoker, is a fictional account of a vampire hunt in Transylvania. Jonathan Harker, a lawyer, is sent by his boss to Castle Dracula to assist in a real estate transaction with a wealthy man named Count Dracula. However, he is soon not allowed out of the castle, and slowly he realizes the the Count is no ordinary man. Harker manages to escape and eventually teams up with a colleague to hunt down Count Dracula. I enjoyed the book, it was full of complex back stories that merged into one beautiful crescendo: the hunt of the Count. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to expand their vocabulary, as the book is rich with complex words and sentences. I would also recommend this book to avid readers; (as it is a classic) it should be ensured that to be a genuine reader one must read this famous work of art.

Reviewer's Name: Finn
Awards:
We All Fall Down book jacket
Richards, Natalie D
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Romance, thriller, and horror all wrapped into one. Natalie D Richards does it once a great with a book you won't be able to put down until the final page. When two best friends in love have a falling out over a fight at a party it seems nothing could bring them together again. Except for the bridge that is. Strange things keep bringing them back to the place of the party and back to each other. Lock on bridges and hearts hold mystery but the views of both parties is being clouded by their own mental struggles. This is a very emotional book and capitating one that I can't wait to read again. Readers enjoy and beware of the bridge.

Reviewer's Name: McKenna
Nona the Ninth book jacket
Muir, Tamsyn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Nona the Ninth is the third book in the Locked Tomb series. It was an unprecedented addition, as the series was originally meant to be a trilogy that would end with Alecto the Ninth. And after reading this book, I couldn't imagine the series any other way. This book takes a step away from our principle protagonists and inter-planetary conflict to zoom in on Nona, a young woman who has technically only been alive for six months. She is a great teacher's aid, a fantastic dog watcher, and a caring friend. As her city crumbles around her and the secrets of her origin begin to come to light, Nona must keep trust in herself and the people she loves if she hopes to make it to her birthday.
I've seen a lot of reviews comparing this book to the first two in the series. In my opinion, there is no comparison to be made between any of them. The first is a thriller mystery in a nightmare castle with newfound friends. The second is a psychological horror story that occasionally becomes a soap opera. The third is slice of life, and the most heartbreaking of all three. I agree fully with the choice to make this a separate book, instead of trying to cram this into a climactic series ending. The series needed time to breathe from the revelations and consequences of the first two books, and to develop many of the wonderful side characters. On this note, the side characters in this book ruined me. They are constantly hilarious. They are perpetually heartbreaking. They have so much love for each other and it tears me apart. They are also fantastically developed, to the point where the thought of losing any of them almost stopped me from finishing the book. A large part of what made them special was seeing them through Nona's eyes, which was a fantastic combination of naively loving and strangely perceptive. Speaking of which, Nona's perspective was a special treat. Throughout the series, the author usually increases tension and intrigue by seriously limiting someone’s perspective. Previously this had been by outside parties hiding information or the unreliability of the narrator, but Nona being a mental six-month-old was a special treat. She attempts to relay everything with accuracy, but with limited experience and vocabulary the audience is forced to experience everything with fresh eyes to try to see it for what it is. Beyond all this, the story shined in all the usual departments for this series. The humor was exceptional, probably the funniest the series has been since the beginning of Gideon the Ninth. I particularly enjoyed the dream sequence narrations, as they were beautiful, insightful, and insanely funny. Sometimes I feel like Muir makes nearly every one of her characters funny so they can rip your heart out later with a little extra oomph. The worldbuilding continues to be a harrowing endeavor in the best way, as you have to take the time to figure it out for yourself with what little glimpses the book gives you. The only complaint I feel like someone could make about this book is that the pacing was pretty slow in the beginning to establish the ensemble cast, but I loved every minute of it so I can’t complain.
In conclusion, this book is another triumph for the Locked Tomb trilogy, and I can’t wait to see what comes next! I’d recommend this book to anyone who loves found family, slice of life stories, lots of explosions, zombie princes, and dogs with too many legs!
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Eve
Fairy Tale book jacket
King, Stephen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Lord of The Rings, Harry Potter, Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia have already won the hearts of millions of readers of all ages. Fantasy novels with complex plots, written in the understandable even for the youngest readers language, keep older generations excited and thrilled as well. The Fairy Tale by Stephen King can definitely be included in this honorable list. Describing the incredible adventures of Charlie Reade, it takes us to the mystical world and introduces to the ancient evil monsters and brave fighters for freedom.
Everything starts simple enough. The characters are living their ordinary enough lives and dealing with their down-to-earth duties and routines. But everything changes when a 17-year-old Charlie Reade decides to help his old grumpy neighbor. He discovers the door to the hidden world, where life is paralyzed by a curse that erases people’s faces and takes their sensations away from them. An evil tyrant Flight Killer and is the one who stands behind it. And, as it normally happens in fairy tales, Charlie turns out to be the one, whose mission is to defeat the evil, liberate the city of Lilimar and save the fallen princess. Is it truly up to a high-schooler to beat the powerful monster? And what does it have to do with an old ill German shepherd? The Fairy Tale has the answers for all these questions.
The audience gets a chance to dive into the exciting and cozy atmosphere of the good old stories, heard in childhood, and, at the same time, enjoy the complicity of created by King universe and charm of human feelings and behaviors. Classical fairy tale plot and motives make the novel easy and pleasant to read, however, as any fairy tale, it contains hidden moral and promotes eternal values.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Oleksandra
Frankenstein book jacket
Shelly Mary, Wollstonecraft
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Frankenstein, a fictitious novel based Europe, details the account of a genius named Victor Frankenstein who creates a beast out of dead body parts. The beast then goes on to haunt him and kill everyone who Frankenstein loves. Frankenstein tracks the beast into the mountains and eventually speaks to him. The beast pleads Frankenstein to create a female beast, to which Frankenstein, comprehending of the horror that a lineage of beasts would survive, declines. The beast vows to kill every last one of Frankenstein's affections, and he does. Frankenstein is enraged and dedicated the rest of his life to tracking and killing the beast. The chase ends in the Arctic, where Frankenstein eventually dies. The beast sees his death and, with no more hope for a future mate, is overcome with grief.

Reviewer's Name: Finn
A Monster Calls book jacket
Ness, Patrick
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A Monster Calls is excellent for what it does. A young boy battles with his feelings over his sick and dying mother. He is haunted by a certain horrible nightmare. A monster outside his window causes havoc on various levels to evoke his true thoughts. He isn't afraid of anything, because nothing is scarier than his nightmare. The story reads similarly to a fable in that it weaves itself perfectly neatly. There are no subplots, extra characters, or excess in this novel. Instead, it marches on to the structure that one would expect, in three acts, each with appropriate escalation. The structure of this novel was refreshingly minimalist, and it helps highlight Conor's strengths and flaws in a powerful way. A Monster Calls is a short read, but it is heartbreaking and beautifully done.

Reviewer's Name: Samah
Took book jacket
Hahn, Mary Downing
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Daniel, the main character of the novel ‘Took’ is struggling with family issues, but then his sister, Erica, is taken from plain sight. It can’t be the woods where the witch lives, so what happened to Erica? The book is about Daniel uncovering new clues and going through twists and turns to find his little sister.
I absolutely loved this book! I’ve read it at least three times and it never gets old. I can appreciate everything about this book from the detailed scenes to the simple, but chilling artwork on the front cover.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Abigail
The Girl in the Locked Room book jacket
Hahn, Mary Downing
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Girl in the Locked Room is a ghost story written by Mary Downing Hahn. In a nutshell, this book is based on a strange girl who has been locked in a small room for many years. As the story goes on, many secrets unfold and all questions are answered with shocking twists.
I enjoyed the plot of this story. As simple as the setting is many secrets unfold throughout the book. The character (the girl) is extremely complex even though the setting is small. This isn’t my favorite novel by Mary Downing Hahn, but it is definitely worth reading in my eyes.

Reviewer's Name: Abigail
The Old Willis Place book jacket
Hahn, Mary Downing
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This ghost story revolves around a pair of siblings, the older sister named Diana and the younger brother named Georgie. The strange thing about these two is they don’t have any parents or legal guardian looking after them. It has always been Diana and Georgie on the Willis Farm. The two have a strict set of rules to follow which may lead to consequences if they break.
I really enjoyed this book. It was really an attention grabber and I was extremely interested in the plot because I haven’t read anything like it so far. Diana and her little brother Georgie are really complex characters and their relationship is interesting to follow throughout the entire book. This book is another ghost story from Mary Downing Hahn. If you have any free time, I recommend picking up the book and start reading!
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Abigail
bHorror Hotel book jacket
Fulton, Victoria & McClaren Faith
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Have you ever read a book that’s so bad it’s good? Maybe even great? Even if you haven’t, there is room for one of these books in everyone’s lives. This book for me is Horror Hotel. Cringey, “Gen Z” dialogue? Horror Hotel has it. Badly written plot with an obvious twist? You can find that in Horror Hotel. One dimensional characters? You guessed it, Horror Hotel. Though, I will give this book credit where it’s due. I had found myself laughing harder than I’ve ever had at a book. It has the exact same energy of something you’d write with your friends at 3 AM. If you are looking for grade-A trash, you’ll definitely find it in Horror Hotel.

Reviewer's Name: Maya
The Picture of Dorian Gray book jacket
Wilde, Oscar
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

As a lover of writing, poetry, and pretentious philosophical tangents on the measurements of good art, I was bound to enjoy Wilde's only novel. The Picture of Dorian Gray is a beautiful tapestry of tragic corruption and its devastating effects. Albeit at times Lord Henry seems to ramble on about entirely uninteresting subjects, the overall experience of the book is short and sweet. The prose is flowery and elegant; the interactions between characters are brief but natural. Major character development occurs off-screen, which was disappointing, but within 160 pages one can only fit so much. Ultimately, I greatly enjoyed the ride, and The Picture of Dorian Gray has cemented itself as one of my favorites.

Reviewer's Name: Samah
Unwind book jacket
Shusterman, Neal
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Unwind has a fresh, fascinating, and frankly genius premise: after a war is fought on abortion, the U.S. government passes legislature allowing parents to sign an order to "unwind" their teenagers. The teen is then taken apart, and each body part is used for transplants. Like any good dystopia, the concept poses a number of thought-provoking questions that the book tries to address, like "do we have souls?" or "what makes a person themself?" or "how scary is it to be unwound, really?", and it answers them with varying degrees of success. Unwind is an excellent conversation starter; it is riddled with nuanced philosophical ideas which are, at times, uniquely terrifying. However, that's where the problems with Unwind lie: the intrigue doesn't stretch much farther than the initial concepts. Shusterman is talented at worldbuilding, and every new detail of Unwind's dystopia is interesting, inspired, absurd, and simultaneously realistic. Unfortunately, the story fails to make use of this inherent intrigue. Much of the reader's time is spent spectating characters as they shuttle from one location to another. They have minimal development, or, when they do have development, it is sudden and drastic. Shusterman builds a vivid universe only to guide readers through the dullest corners. Unwind is worth a read for the conversation, not the story. If a reader expects the average teenage dystopia, they should pick another book; but if they want fresh perspectives, creative horror, and possibly a hint of existential dread, Unwind is the perfect read.

Reviewer's Name: Samah
Tender is the Flesh book jacket
Bazterrica, Agustina
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The book is about a world where a virus made all animals poisonous of people so the world turns to cannibalism to survive. The main character is Marcos who works in a meat processing plant to ensure his family is taken care off. It describes this daily work, slowly building how the world adapted. He's given a gift of live meat. Marcos seemed to look down and seemed to be the only one who saw something wrong with this. However a the end of the book the last few pages changed everything you know about Marcos, you see him in a different light. It feels like it came out of nowhere but, slowly looking through you see it building up.
The book is hard to put down and it explores the darker side of humans abilities to adapt. It makes you think and leaves you wondering about the world that Marcos built for himself afterwards.

Reviewer's Name: Hana
The Picture of Dorian Gray book jacket
Wilde, Oscar
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Imagine what could happen, if people possessed magic mirrors that reflected not their faces, but their souls? Dorian Gray, from the novel by Oscar Wilde, gets a chance to fully experience it.
An artist, Basil Hallward, paints an incredibly realistic portrait of an even more incredibly handsome young man. As he’s still innocent, the picture reflects just his appearance, but later, when Dorian starts doing cruel and ugly things, the portrait begins changing too. Every sin, every crime against the other human reflects on the face on the canvas, adding more and more ugly wrinkles, spots and ulcers. His own face, however, stays unaltered, always fresh and young. The portrait shows not what he looks like, but what he truly is. Finally, when Dorian kills the artist, he reveals the picture and the face of an old disgusting man on it.
The entire transformation proves what a high price one has to pay in order to realize his wish to stay young and attractive all the time. Under the influence of his old friend, Dorian loses his life guides and devotes his time to looking for new enjoyments. He does not understand that true beauty comes from the inside. It’s not necessarily visible. It’s not on your face, it’s in your thoughts, words and actions.
The novel is written in magical realism, so even the most incredible plot turns feel like something natural. It involves from the first page and makes the readers go through all the transformations together with the main characters.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Oleksandra
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde book jacket
Stevenson, Robert Louis,
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This book was alright. I had to read this for school once and actually quite enjoyed it. This is a great book for anyone who likes quick mystery reads. The plot is one that makes the reader want to continue reading! The book is about a mysterious doctor named Dr. Jekyll. Jekyll is a well respected man but awfully strange. If this sounds interesting I suggest reading it! Yes, it wasn’t my favorite, but I enjoyed the mysterious plot.

Reviewer's Name: Abigail
The Shadows book jacket
North, Alex
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Shadows by Alex North is about a brutal crime that rocks a small town, and haunts the ones closest to it. Paul grew up alongside three boys, two of which would later murder one of their fellow students. Twenty-five years later, Paul returns to the town to visit his dying mother and is forced to uncover deeply-hidden secrets about the murder when new crimes start to happen. I liked how each chapter revealed new clues and the final result was difficult to guess. There were several plot twists that felt well-calculated. For as exciting as the plot was, Paul was a very bland main character. The way he described his childhood with the future murderers was boring, and I didn't like the lucid dreaming theme. It seemed like the author was going for a strange cult theme, but it was muddled with the constant flashbacks to present-day. It was a good read for the Halloween season, but not my favorite otherwise.
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
Small Spaces book jacket
Arden, Katherine
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The book is about a book loving kid named Ollie who after coming home from school sees a woman trying to throw a book into water. Ollie of course takes the book away from her and got a warning. The book Ollie got slowly connects to the farm she's visiting for a field trip. After the trip the bus breaks down and they find themselves listening to the bus driver and leaving into the fog. Which led them to a creepy place where scarecrows roam around at the night. Overall I loved to see the book slowly connect as the pieces began making sense. You get to see the characters grow emotionally and begin to understand each other. The eerie feeling of the book fits and the ending makes it feel like it's gone back to this small town and nothing ever happened.

Reviewer's Name: Hana